February 19, 2008
Cops: Pair charged in Barrie fire had ties to destroyed restaurant
By THE CANADIAN PRESS

BARRIE, Ont. - Police in Barrie, Ont., believe a multimillion-dollar fire in the city's downtown was deliberately set to stage an insurance fraud.

A late-night blaze in early December was preceded by a loud explosion in a restaurant housed in a historic downtown building that dated back to 1877.

There were no injuries, but more than 40 people had to be evacuated from several apartments above the Royal Thai Cuisine restaurant.

Two Toronto residents are now facing charges, and police say they had business connections to the Riviera restaurant, which was also destroyed in the fire.

Two other businesses were gutted, while others suffered damage.

John Cartolano, 62, is charged with arson endangering life, obstructing justice and fraud, and Laverne Williams, 40, is charged with fraud and obstructing justice.



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